Sunday, July 12, 2009



Today there is a soccer game that is captivating all of Lima: a showdown between Alianza Lima and Club Universitario de Deportes.

Alianza and U are among the oldest and most established soccer teams in Peru. Alianza has always been located in the working class, and largely Afro-Peruvian neighborhood of La Victoria, while U was originally a university team. These origins in time lead to Alianza being identified with workers, blacks, and mestizos, while U has appealed to a whiter, more moneyed crowd. These, of course, are not absolutes, and each has fans in all segments of society, but that identification has meant that U - Alianza matches have been surrogates for all manner of tensions and struggles in Lima, and Peruvian, society since their first meet in 1928.

Theirs is now the quintessential rivalry of Peruvian soccer, and any match between them is referred to as a "clásico" and is a flashpoint for hooligan violence in the stands and on the streets.

Today's Clásico -of which the 1st half has just ended with Alianza up 1-0 - is being played in the U's Estadio Monumental on the outskirts of Lima, and everyone connected to it in an official capacity has gone out of their way to assure everyone that it will be peaceful and sportsmanlike, on the field and off.

The stadium is full today, with the Alianza fans occupying their usual southern sections of the stands, and the U taking up the north and eastern sectors. If U wins, it may be OK, but it doesn't seem likely that the barras bravas will take kindly to U's being beaten on their own turf.

As for us, we're comfortably esconced in front of the TV at home...

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